Can high ability students be labelled?
The following is an interesting excerpt from a study in 1988. Although 25 years of age, the classifications are still applicable and still relevant. The full article can be read here
Note, under each type, the work has been reduced in length to aid reading.
…children and youth should not be defined by anyone of the following categories. The behavior, feelings, and needs of gifted and talented children change frequently when they are young, but as years pass there will be fewer abrupt changes and they may settle into one or two profile areas….
Type I: The Successful
- Perhaps as many as 90% of identified gifted students in school programs are Type I’s.
- Type I’s have learned the system.
- They have listened closely to their parents and teachers.
- After discovering what “sells” at home and at school, they begin to display appropriate behavior.
- They learn well and are able to score high on achievement tests and tests of intelligence.
- Rarely do they exhibit behavior problems because they are eager for approval from teachers, parents and other adults.
- These are the children many believe will “make it on their own.
Type II: The Challenging
- Type II’s are the divergently gifted.
- Many school systems fail to identify Type II gifted children for programs unless the programs have been in place at least five years
- Type II’s typically possess a high degree of creativity and may appear to be obstinate, tactless, or sarcastic.
- They often question authority and may challenge the teacher in front of the class.
- They do not conform to the system, and they have not learned to use it to their advantage.
- They receive little recognition and few rewards or honors.
- Their interactions at school and at home often involve conflict.
- These children feel frustrated because the school system has not affirmed their talents and abilities.
- They are struggling with their self-esteem.
Type III: The Underground
- The Type III gifted child is known as “the underground gifted.”
- Generally, these are middle school females although males may also want to hide their giftedness. If a gifted boy goes underground, it tends to happen later, in high school, and typically in response to the pressure to participate in athletics.
- In general, Type III’s are gifted girls whose belonging needs rise dramatically in middle school (Kerr, 1985).
- They begin to deny their talent in order to feel more included with a non-gifted peer group.
- Students who are highly motivated and intensely interested in academic or creative pursuits may undergo an apparently sudden radical transformation, losing all interest in previous passions.
Type IV: The Dropouts
- Type IV gifted students are angry.
- They are angry with adults and with themselves because the system has not met their needs for many years and they feel rejected.
- They may express this anger by acting depressed and withdrawn or by acting out and responding defensively.
- Frequently, Type IV’s have interests that lie outside the realm of the regular school curriculum and they fail to receive support and affirmation for their talent and interest in these unusual areas.
Type V: The Double-Labeled
- The vast majority of gifted programs do not identify these children, nor do they offer differentiated programming that addresses and integrates their special needs.
- Type V students often do not exhibit behaviors that schools look for in the gifted.
- They may have sloppy handwriting or disruptive behaviors that make it difficult for them to complete work, and they often seem confused about their inability to perform school tasks.
- They show symptoms of stress; they may feel discouraged, frustrated, rejected, helpless, or isolated.
- These children may deny that they are having difficulty by claiming that activities or assignments are “boring” or “stupid.”
Type VI: The Autonomous Learner
- The Type VI gifted child is the autonomous learner.
- Few gifted children demonstrate this style at a very early age although parents may see evidence of the style at home.
- Like the Type I’s, these students have learned to work effectively in the school system.
- However, unlike the Type I’s who strive to do as little as possible, Type VI’s have learned to use the system to create new opportunities for themselves.
- They do not work for the system; they make the system work for them.
- Type VI’s have strong, positive self-concepts because their needs are being met; they are successful, and they receive positive attention and support for their accomplishments as well as for who they are.
- They are well respected by adults and peers and frequently serve in some leadership capacity within their school or community.